Aston Villa need a win if they want any chance of Premier League survival, but it doesn't look good for the hosts, says Jamie Pacheco.
"But I’ve never really bought into the ‘they have to win’ argument because sportsmen are for the most part at their best when relaxed, not when they have their backs against the wall. Yes, the head to head record carries some weight but not nearly enough for me."
Aston Villa v Crystal Palace
Sunday July 12, 14:15
Live on Sky Sports Football
The table doesn't lie...
I don't know what positives Aston Villa can take from this campaign, almost certain to end in relegation.
The two best things you could say are that Jack Grealish has done his best to carry the side, in attack at least, and there will be no shortage of takers if the inevitable happens and they decide to cash in on him while they can.
And secondly, that this season Tyrone Mings has finally become the powerful, imposing centre-back that he threatened to become when at Bournemouth a few years back. They might think about selling him on as well if they really need the cash, though he's exactly the sort of player they'd need if they want to come straight back up next year.
The table doesn't lie, as they say. They've picked up just 27 points from 34 games and have a goal average of -29. They're not done yet and a win here with West Ham and Watford failing to win this weekend would allow them to believe. But I've stopped believing in an escape like that for them weeks ago.
Boring season? Yes, please.
How Aston Villa would have loved to have had the dull, uneventful season that Palace had.
No on field or off field dramas, no managerial changes, no relegation battles, no players on strike or any breaking social distancing guidelines.
In fact, it's hard to really remember anything at all of note that happened during their season. Good for them. That's typical of the way Roy Hodgson likes to go about his business and though they won't be competing for European places anytime soon or having many fans of the brand of football they play, they're certainly getting the job done.
For sure, the short summer break will throw up the question of whether Wilfried Zaha will remain at Palace for another season. Whether he does or doesn't, he hasn't exactly made much of an impact over the past few weeks. His goal against Chelsea last time out was his first since Gameweek 17.
Eagles the clear value
If I had any of the 10 Premier League games to choose from in terms of trying to pick a definite winner in one of them at a good price, I probably wouldn't be looking at either Villa or Palace, because there are far more reliable sides out there.
But that's not to say there isn't a value selection here anyway. It's Palace at 3.412/5. I can really only imagine there are two reasons for Villa being as short as 2.3811/8.
Firstly, that they desperately need the win and Palace don't. And secondly that they boast a strong head-to-head record against the Eagles, losing just once in their last seven.
But I've never really bought into the 'they have to win' argument because sportsmen are for the most part at their best when relaxed, not when they have their backs against the wall. Yes, the head to head record carries some weight but not nearly enough for me.
Speaking of stats, Opta tell us that Palace are unbeaten in their last 13 matches against sides in the relegation zone and this is an opponent that Hodgson has liked being up against: he's only ever lost twice against them in 12 matches and has beaten them more times than he has anyone else in the Premier League.
It's hard to justify how a side who is 15 points better off than their opponents can be 3.412/5, so we won't. We'll just back them.
Don't be tempted by 'overs'
You might be pretty excited at first that you can get 2.1411/10 on over 2.5 goals. After all, the percentage of home Villa games this season that have had at least three goals is a very high 64.7%. The problem with that is that most of those goals were scored against Villa rather than by them, so we're almost counting on Hodgson's men to get at least two, and Palace aren't the biggest scorers at the best of times.
Besides, the percentage of Palace away games with over 2.5 goals is just 47.1% so things sort of balance themselves out in that sense anyway.
If this had been last season and you may have fancied Zaha to score at 11/4. After all, last campaign, 90% of his goals came away from home and away matches don't come much easier than this. But this season it's just 25% of his goals that came on the road and he's not playing hat well anyway, as we've already discussed.
Top scorer with nine goals, Jordan Ayew, is 15/8 but a more interesting prospect is Dutchman Patrick van Aanholt, who has three for the season, scored against Chelsea and is a far bigger 8/1.
JAMIE'S P AND L FOR PREMIER LEAGUE 2019/20
Points Staked: 50.5
Points Returned: 55.31
P&L: +5.81 pts
Back Crystal Place to win @ 3.412/5